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Make All Roads Motorable Before 31st January 2020, Kerala HC Directs Govt. [Read Judgment]

Ashok Kini
21 Oct 2019 6:29 AM GMT
Make All Roads Motorable Before 31st January 2020, Kerala HC Directs Govt. [Read Judgment]

"No amount of excuses or reasons of any kind can justify even the loss of one life or injury solely because of bad roads.."

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The Kerala High Court has directed the Government and Local Self Government Institutions to repair and maintain all roads to make them motoroble 'immediately', not later than 31st January 2020.

Sometimes, extraordinary situations requires extraordinary remedies, said Justice Devan Ramachandran while issuing important directives in a writ petition filed in 2008 raising the issue of pathetic road conditions in Kerala.

The writ petition was filed by one CP Ajithkumar and Kerala Merchants Union in 2008. When the writ petition came up for final hearing, it was urged that the situation of the roads has not merely bettered, but has drastically deteriorated. After hearing the submissions of Advocate General CP Sudhakara Prasad, the court issued the following directives:

  • The Government, Public Works Department and the Local Self Government Institutions will repair and maintain all roads immediately to make them motoroble, at least to the minimum necessary standard immediately, but not later than 31.12.2019 as far as the PWD roads are concerned and 31.01.2020 as far as the various roads under the Local Self Government Institutions are concerned.
  • The repair and maintenance work shall be carried on and completed following due procedure but under the strict and continuous supervision of the concerned and competent Engineer and Staff of the respective Departments/Institutions.
  • The primary responsibility to ensure that the repair work is done properly and that future repairs are noticed and done without delay will be on the concerned Engineers/Staff of the respective Departments/Local Self Government Institutions and any lapse on their part in doing so would lead to necessary consequences, both under the Service Regulations and the Penal Law.
  • It will be available to any citizen and Residents Associations to bring the disrepair of any road, as also the formation of pot holes and craters, in future to the concerned Department/Institutions so that immediate action can be taken to repair it. The Secretaries of the concerned Local Self Government Institutions with respect to the roads under them and the Heads of the Departments concerned with the other roads will be responsible personally to respond to any such information and take necessary and urgent action.
  • If the Secretaries of the LSGIs or the Heads of Departments concerned encounter any issues in acting as per direction (d) above, they will be at liberty to bring it to their Controlling Authorities, who will also, thereafter, be equally responsible.
  • In order for the citizens and Residents Associations, to act as per the liberty given to them in direction (d) above, I direct the Government to publish the list of roads which are not under the Local Self Government Institutions with the name, designation, address, phone number, E-mail and Whats app number of the designated officer in charge in the official website of the Public Works Department. Needless to say, as regards the roads under the Local Self Government Institutions, the citizen can approach it's secretary, in terms of the liberty granted herein.
  • Local Self Government Institutions constitute a team for maintenance work for day to day basis, so that the pot holes or defects in roads can be rectified immediately without waiting to let it finally destroy it. The formation of such teams/squads shall be ensured by the Secretary of the Local Self Government Institutions are concerned and if any difficulties are encountered by such Authority in doing so, he/she will be at liberty to approach the Secretary for Local Self Government Institutions appropriately, who will there upon assist in such formation through all steps that are necessary.

Justice Devan observed that nothing has changed on the ground level inspite of court orders. The judge said:

Hapless citizens still spill blood and life in the craters and pot holes in roads – the incident of the unfortunate death of Sri. R.Umesh Kumar of Kochi being only the last of such but not the last ever, unless real and effective action is taken... Precious time, money and energy are being lost every day on our roads on account of tenuous queues of vehicles caught in traffic solely because of bad roads – the consequent avoidable loss of fuel, especially detrimental to our economy, which is already reeling from the natural disasters of this and last year.

With regard to the submission made by the Advocate General about the action taken by the Government in this regard, the court said:

No amount of excuses or reasons of any kind can justify even the loss of one life or injury solely because of bad roads.. Past experience has shown us that the main reason for the abject condition of roads is that repairs and maintenance are not done in time. A small pot-hole or crater that appears on an otherwise good road is left unattended, thus leading it to become bigger, then crater like, finally deracinating the entire road. Any amount of causes may be cited for this, but the primary is often the indifference and callousness exhibited by the officials in charge of the roads.

Click here to Read/Download Judgment

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